“I AM NOT A TOURIST” Drive, at the Beirut By Bike Center.
… And wishes that come with it.
This post is dedicated to reviewing what I found out about help for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, so far.
Among the topics that I set to uncover in this blog is an understanding of the issue I’m raising with The Loom. Somehow, not bringing it up early in this blog feels a bit like I am displacing the issue with a shoddy concept. In fact, I am still cynical of what art can put out when touching on issues, and mostly because Art with a capital A doesn’t have this intent attached to it. I set my work in that direction (at least for now), and so the very least I want to do is put the issue first. Without further ado, here are some initiatives that have successfully engaged this country and given support to Syrian refugees.
– I AM NOT A TOURIST (found here) started up in early December. Leading up to the day of the event, with the onslaught of Winter and Alexa, they continually appealed to Facebook users to not be passive to the exacerbating living conditions of Syrian Refugees. Calls were made for Winter clothing, blankets, and other items for all ages with greater urgency placed on baby and toddler items. The event was run by G Living Green (more about them here), Sawa for Syria (or Sawa for Dev & Aid), Let’s Help our Syrian Brothers and Sisters, and War Child Holland in Lebanon, along with other companies that lent trucks, space, materials and more to make the donation process easier. The endeavor stretched to accepting cash donations with their donation boxes and pick-up with the help of Deghri Messengers.
Donation boxes on site from WCH and Sawa for Syria. Courtesy of the I AM NOT A TOURIST group (photo linked below).
More than 4,000 people passed by and gave in items. I recommend skimming through their event page. So many attendees have recommended other groups for item and cash donations. It’s become a great hub for updates, including the latest on the new NGO that “I AM NOT A TOURIST” is founding.
– Also in line with this event was Zeid & The Wings Live at Radio Beirut, for which entry cost either 10,000 LL or 1 item of Winter clothing. The clothing donations went straight to the I AM NOT A TOURIST collective.
– By the second week of December, Lebanese government authorities permitted the use of specialized tents, meant to last up to 3 years as opposed to 6 months, after half a year of lobbying to allow the IKEA and UNHCR merged project to come. You can read an article about the lobbying and the removal of the prohibition, and a related article about the tent attached at the bottom.
– The Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) is a group established in AUB. A part of the group set their focus on helping Syrian Refugees, called the Syrian Relief Project. For at least two years, they called for item donations, both clothing and other necessities. This Winter, they sent out an urgent plea to the Facebook community and AUB faculty, staff and students.
CCECS mass email sent to AUB students.
Keeping in mind that the I AM NOT A TOURIST event was picking up a lot more hits online, the CCECS managed to get a large number of donations in. With fewer volunteers, they also organized and packaged all that they received.
CCECS volunteers inside AUB organizing donations.
That is not all that they’ve been up to this last year. The Syrian Relief Project have also been accepting cash donations to fund the building of a prototype portable classroom, or “Ghata”. They are currently working with AUB’s Syrian Cultural Club and are posting updates on their Facebook page. The portable classroom can be seen by anyone between the AUB Byblos Bank Art Gallery and West Hall.
This project started up earlier during AUB’s Fall semester. The AUB SCC and CCECS are now working in conjunction to build their model classroom.
Here, the volunteers are deciding where the solar panel will be placed.
Volunteering engineers and technicians stand outside the work in progress.
The unpackaged solar panel, transformer, and a test bulb.
Inside the classroom.
Most of the work in progress…
…and the progress to come, the roof with its supports.
Soon enough, I’ll stop in and see the progress til now, but it seems the model classroom is complete. The construction began on December 17. Considering the number of volunteers weren’t great (not claiming it wasn’t enough, but just not that big a number), they proved that number of volunteers, a steady cash flow (The CCECS and SRP used donations from this event and this bake sale) and necessary equipment can manage a single project of this scale.
– Hand in Hand for Syria made this appeal for cash donations, which the organization will use to purchase blankets and heaters for Syrians in Aleppo. This is a little outside the frame of the post, but it is note worthy as it applies to everyone who can help, including the Lebanese. The link I found was in the caption of this image:
Another appeal for Winter clothing for Syrians across the region. Art by Wissam Al-Jazairy (linked below)
Here is where I pause, and end with a few things about help here in Lebanon. I think the fact that these few efforts have engaged a great number of people or made progress within a substantial amount of time is awesome. It is very probably not enough to afford every Syrian refugee the minimum accommodation for the Winter season, their living conditions, their education, and more. The more organizations try to engage the Lebanese community, the more people they reach who can help or offer ideas at the least, and the more help is mobilized.
I promise more updates on the subject, as they come to mind or to fruition here in Lebanon. I also ask readers to throw in suggestions, updates, corrections, and thoughts.
Meanwhile, two more screen captures of relevant information and a final greeting.
This question was posted in the I AM NOT A TOURIST group.
Hope everyone had a fun, warm and comforting new year. I wish everyone a warm and comforting year to come!
Donation boxes photo reference: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=625184110860513&set=gm.1403777026530178&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf
Wissam Al Jazairy’s official page: http://www.wissamaljazairy.daportfolio.com/